A professed pro-life feminist’s attempt to co-opt feminists of the past.

By Lilandra           Lilandra is a username taken from a little known comic book character. In real life, her children are named after comic book characters, so her geek credentials are impeccable. Her husband is a large ape, cyber-viking, biker, who opines about religion and knows his place in a cladogram.

A “New Wave Feminist” pro-life advocate posted  three strategies aimed at abolishing abortion that she believes will, “make abolition a beautiful reality.” They are…

1. “Pro-Life Feminists”

What does make an impression is when women who are self-described feminists adopt a pro-life position. It blows people’s minds a little bit. It’s the thing that started me on my road to conversion. Groups like Feminists for Life of America remind people that our early feminists were dead-set on freeing women from tyranny, not just passing the tyranny on to their children.

The site she links to and is the vice president of argues to tradition, but not to the right wing religious tradition you would expect -at least not overtly.  The presidential election has shown how that fails to persuade anyone who isn’t already a zealot.  Instead, it quote mines feminists of the past.  The site and its publication “American Feminism” uses every appeal to emotion possible to push its pro-life propaganda.

Quote Mining, Appeal to Authority and Tradition…

They called it “child-murder” (Susan
B. Anthony), “degrading to women”
(Elizabeth Cady Stanton), “most barbaric”
(Margaret Sanger), and a “disowning (of)
feminine values” (Simone de Beauvoir). How
have we lost this wisdom?

It is impossible to rip these quotes out the context of how different abortion was compared to the medical procedure it is today.  All of the options available to women with an out of wedlock pregnancy were “degrading” and “barbaric”, because of the religion-based judgmental attitudes of the past. Among the options for women being consigned to religious asylums or left with the option of enduring unsafe and illegal abortions. The feminists of the past called attention to this. As a result of their courage, religion has lost much of the ability to dictate with the aid of the government to women what they do with their own bodies.

2. “Pro-Life Doctors”

Groups like the Association of Pro-Life Physicians and the American Association of Pro-Life OBGYNS help women find pro-life physicians. The more doctors refuse to perform abortions and respect their patients enough to tell them the truth, the fewer abortions there will be.

Convincing doctors to deny women with unplanned pregnancies a safe abortion, will only increase the number of illegal abortions and forced births to women who aren’t in a position to care for a child. For all the preaching about being a true feminist, note how she would turn back the clock to denying a woman a medical abortion.

3. Premarital Chastity

Of course, you can never get everybody to stop having premarital sex. But back in the olden days of yore, when there was a standard – and when if you got caught having sex before marriage, you would get your butt beat and get sent off to Ye Olde Forbidding Nunnery & School For Wayward Girls – there were a lot fewer teenagers having sex. You see, when you lower and then completely eradicate the standard, people – surprise! – fail to live up to that standard.

What follows is the gist of her holier than thou argument.  It is solidly based in controlling normal sexual behavior, and punishing people who challenge religious authority.  It harkens back to an era of The Magdalene Asylum Laundries when the church was something to be feared.

Turn of the 20th Century English Magdalene Asylum

The first Magdalene Asylum opened in Dublin in 1765 with the mission of reforming “fallen women” like prostitutes and wayward girls.  Throughout the 19th century they spread to Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States.  The last Magdalene Asylum closed in Ireland in 1996. An estimated 30,000 women in Ireland alone went through the asylums.

Although the Catholic Church wasn’t the only religious sect to set up these “homes” for unwed mothers and exploit their physical and maternal labor in the guise of charity, it was largely responsible for institutionalizing this practice throughout 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Women in these asylums were subjected to slave labor, imprisonment, having their children sold and forcibly taken away from them, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. So yeah, women were still having premarital sex, they were just being imprisoned, exploited, enslaved, shamed, and abused by the church for it.

The third strategy of premarital chastity in the post  is the most irksome, as it is an appeal to return to the ignorance of reproduction practiced in the storied past whitewashed into being wholesome.  In reality she neglects to mention the most effective ways to prevent abortions -sex education and better access to contraception. Women don’t need to be in the dark about their reproductive rights or abdicate them to a higher authority.  If we treat women with the dignity of educating them about the responsibilities and safe practice of sex rather than instilling in them the mindset of a grown child, there will be fewer abortions and no illegal abortions.

The way religion has co-opted reproductive rights and perverted it in the past is still evident today in this woman’s post.  It is what makes pro-life organizations like “Feminists for Life” so wrongheaded, it prevents us from moving toward a more enlightened future where abortion is more rare and largely unnecessary.